Every year when I come back from the IAM (International Arts Movement) Encounter, my head can hardly contain any more input—and my heart is giddy from two-and-a-half-days of intensive stimulation. The IAM Encounter is not just a meeting of artists. Something happens there that is bigger than just the sum of its parts. There is a spiritual synergy—what some might call “ubuntu”—a chain reaction of sharing that taps into our collective potential.
Or, as philosopher of art Adrienne Chaplin called it during her talk, a “lift experience.”
The culture at the Encounter is one of inclusion and encouragement. Visual artists, writers, philanthropists, dancers, scientists, musicians and clergy come together to share their individual contributions to the re-making of the world as it ought to be. People talk about things like “re-humanizing” and “being generative”—which are really ways of describing the redemptive work that God is doing through people of faith.
Bruce Herman, an artist and lecturer, pointed out the contrast of artistic styles from someone like Damien Hirst (who barely touches his work) to Andy Goldworthy and Wolfgang Laib (who commit such loving attention to theirs). Nigel Goodwin, actor and graduate from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, talked about the love we must show others. He left the stage to comfort an audience member who got all choked up at one point during his talk—directly demonstrating love in action. Mona Storling and her dancers related the story of the woman caught in adultery in a surprising way and with such visual force that it took my breath away.
Makoto Fujimura, the founder of IAM, shared with us his latest project: the illumination of the four gospels in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. Li Young Lee read with humility poems that were saturated with love for God. They sounded like new psalms, with humanity meeting God in each line.
In addition to feasting on all these presentations, I got great joy from seeing old friends and making new ones from all over the world. IAM brings together such fascinating people! And they are so open to sharing about their journeys through the realm of faith and art. I was especially excited to meet a group of believers that are active in China.
Now I am back home, trying to digest it all. I am pregnant with vision—and bursting to create.